Paul Cooper, BA, MEd, MA, PhD, CPsychol, AsFBPS, is the series editor of JKP’s Innovative Learning for All series, which features accessible books that reveal how schools and educators can meet the needs of vulnerable students, and encourage them to engage in learning and to feel confident in the classroom. This week, he’ll be answering some questions about the series and educating students with Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties (SEBD).

Today, Professor Cooper gives an overview of the key resources for teachers in the Innovative Learning for All series.

What is the driving philosophy behind your Innovative Learning for All series, and how do these books work in tandem?

The Innovative Learning for All series is concerned with the fundamental need that all school students have for an effective educational experience that provides them with the resources necessary to enable full and positive engagement in 21st century society. The particular focus of the series is on those students who are at greatest risk of educational failure, particularly those with or at risk of developing Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties (SEBD) and other special educational needs. The purpose of the series is to offer practical insights as well as stimuli for reflection on practice. Importantly, all the books in this series are evidence based and informed by contemporary, cutting edge theory, all of which is delivered in a style we intend to be accessible to the widest possible audience of workers in schools and anyone who is interested in ways of improving the educational engagement of children and young people who are deemed ‘difficult’ or ‘challenging’.

It is important to stress that these are not a ‘101 tips for busy teachers’ type books. Complex problems require careful and thoughtful analysis, and advice on intervention needs to be based on the solid foundation of good quality empirical evidence. Simplistic clichés, such as the idea that all students can and should be effectively educated in ‘mainstream’ classrooms are, where necessary, challenged. Whilst the books are driven by a vision of what the educational experience of students should be, they are also driven by an evidence based analysis of what we actually know about the actual day to day experience of students and their educators.

To date there are four titles in the series which kicked off with the Paul Cooper and Yonca Tiknaz book on ‘nurture groups’ (Nurture Groups in School and at Home). I will avoid the obvious temptation to eulogise the nurture group concept, other than to say that in many ways they embody almost everything that, in my view, classroom based education should reflect, with the adult-pupil relationship being at the heart of the whole enterprise. It is this empirically based insight that enables the nurture group concept to be increasingly popular (in an adapted form) in secondary schools. So whilst the first book in the series is concerned with the fundamentals of attachment, the importance of early life experience and how this can influence the development of certain difficulties later in life, the second book in the series is concerned with the concept of resilience. Carmel Cefai’s book (Promoting Resilience in the Classroom) is concerned with the ways in many individuals appear to transcend similar circumstances which are associated with the development of delinquency and SEBD in others, to lead positive and productive lives. Key themes here are school based support structures and relationships with staff in schools. Relationships revolve around communication, and Richard Rose and Michael Shelvin’s book (Count Me In!) is concerned with the vital role of the student voice in education. They show how the first hand testimony of students can illuminate the realities of schooling, as well as indicating some of the ways in which student voice can be employed in the service of improving schools. The fourth book in the series (Promoting Emotional Education) is by Carmel Cefai and Paul Cooper and is an edited collection of papers by a wide range of contributors, each of whom is concerned with different issues pertinent to the establishment of the kinds of adult-student relationship which are most likely to promote the engagement of vulnerable students. The final paper of this collection reflects on some aspects of the wider social context in which schools are embedded and highlights dysfunctions associated with this and their impact on children.

The general thrust of this book, and the series to date, is that education has a vital role to play in limiting and even overcoming the effects of social risk factors in the lives of the vulnerable, but that schools will only achieve their best when they have the support of the wider society.

Copyright © Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2010.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s spotlight on Paul Cooper and the Innovative Learning for All series. Keep checking the JKP blog for more features on special education and related areas, and join our mailing list to get regular news and updates from JKP delivered straight to your inbox.

Paul Cooper, BA, MEd, MA, PhD, CPsychol, AsFBPS, is a Chartered Psychologist and has been Professor of Education at the University of Leicester, UK, since January 2001. He is also co-chair of the European Network for Social and Emotional Competence (ENSEC). Since 1989 he has held academic posts in the universities of Birmingham, Oxford and Cambridge, and has been a visiting professor and invited lecturer in many countries throughout the world, including: Japan, Taiwan, North America and several European countries. He has authored and edited over 100 journal articles and 14 books, and is the editor of the quarterly journal ‘Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties’.

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